India and Bangladesh have agreed on the extension of Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade with the provision of automatic renewal in line with the proposed amendment to the Bangladesh-India trade agreement during a Secretary-level talk between the two countries held here on April 20. With regard to development of entire protocol route under regional IDA assistance of World Bank, the Bangladeshi side, while welcoming the proposal, agreed to revert after obtaining approval of the concerned authority of Bangladesh. It was also agreed between the two countries that a draft agreement for the regular movement of passenger and cruise vessels would be shared by India with Bangladesh through diplomatic channels, informed an official release.
The issue relating to inclusion of Pangaon container terminal (ICT) in Bangladesh as a port of call was discussed and the Bangladeshi side informed that the Pangaon ICT with two other ICTs in Bangladesh may be used as ports of call by cargo vessel operators. Bangladesh requested that Farraka and Bandel on National Waterway (NW)-1 may be declared as a port of call. India, while agreeing on the reciprocity, mentioned that on Farraka it would revert after internal consultations.
With regard to the commencement of coastal shipping, a draft agreement was initialed by both the countries. It was agreed to finalise the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) in about two months. On cooperation on light house and marine training, India offered to extend training to Bangladeshi personnel.
The Indian delegation was led by Mr Rajive Kumar, Secretary, Ministry of Shipping, while the Bangladeshi delegation was headed by Mr Shafiq Alam Mehdi, Secretary, Ministry of Shipping, government of Bangladesh. Both sides expressed confidence that the deliberations would go a long way in the development of inland water transport and coastal shipping for enhancing connectivity and trade and commerce between the two countries.
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